As your property management business grows, leasing can often feel like an unpredictable, unmanageable, always-working activity, where the phone rings non-stop and you’re never really done answering all the calls, emails and voicemail. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead, Leasing Automation can rationalize your rental process, free up days of time each week, and position your team ahead of the competition. If you’ve not yet experienced leasing automation, you’re probably asking yourself how this might be possible. Let’s start by breaking down what exactly leasing automation is and how it delivers results.
Leasing automation starts the moment a listing goes on market (with automated syndication to internet listing sites). It covers all interaction with the prospect and related parties, including pre-showing qualification, scheduling, coordination with relevant third parties, and follow-up. The scope of leasing automation currently ends somewhere during the rental application process — perhaps up to the point of the rental application or even after applicant screening has begun.
By removing the need to answer phone calls, respond to email inquiries, or return voicemails, leasing automation is removing the barriers created by these manual activities. Much of that manual effort is instead performed with automated tasks and system integrations. Leasing agents and companies have been working toward this end in bits and pieces for some time. Simple steps toward leasing automation include email-auto-replies or voicemail greetings that tell the prospect about open showing schedules. More complicated examples (and more meaningful steps toward leasing automation) include workflows built into general-purpose automation tools like If-This-Then-That, Zapier, or Podio. These tools can be used to automate marketing activities such as the collection of prospect leads and the emailing of new listing announcements.
Leasing automation can’t magically make all the effort go away. But — in those cases where we cannot automate away effort — we can shift effort from leasing staff to prospective renters. More importantly, this shift of effort is done in a way that makes prospective renters feel empowered and provides the immediacy they crave. They can actually be happier as they self-serve their way through the leasing process.
This is most often the case when first scheduling a showing. Instead of 10 or 20 minutes of phone calls, most prospects will quite happily complete a pre-showing questionnaire and schedule a showing online.
Leasing automation should result in huge cost savings for the management company. The same work takes less staff. At the same time, leasing automation can improve some service aspects of the business. There’s never a lead left unanswered. And by creating a prospect-driven experience their journey through the leasing process becomes unobstructed — versus being stuck in call queues or waiting for an email reply.
Leasing automation, however, doesn’t simply remove staff from the leasing process. Rather, it becomes a business-based decision to determine where staff members re-engage. With every phone call, email, or other low-level activity that leasing automation takes away, there’s the opportunity for individual agents or property managers to focus on high-value activities — such as conducting showings, nurturing the best prospective renters, and finding new business outside of their current portfolio.
ShowMojo coined the term leasing automation. So we want to be clear about what that term means. Please note how we classify the examples above (such as email-auto-replies and Podio workflows) as “steps toward leasing automation”. You don’t get leasing automation with a few streamlined processes or a handful of tools. You get leasing automation only when there is a comprehensive system that allows the prospect to self-direct their way through the entire leasing process. That is, with no assistance from your staff. No answered emails or phone calls. No coordination of a showing schedule. For unaccompanied self-showings, no manual distribution of access codes. Yes, leasing teams can step in and take on activities. However, these should be deliberate high-touch additions, such as a personal touch or a way to distinguish your company above the rest.
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